#1424 Fighting with at least two hands tied (Conservative Democrats Manchin and Sinema) (Transcript)

Air Date 6/19/2021

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the politics of obstruction in the service of big donors' interests while sacrificing the ability to run a functioning democracy in the process, to win-win. Clips today are from The BradCast, Start Making Sense, The Majority Report, The Takeaway, Deconstructed and the Thom Hartmann Program.

West Virginia's Robyn Kincaid on the maddening Joe Manchin - The BradCast - Air Date 6-9-21

BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: [00:00:26] Action Funds Survey found that the bill was extremely popular among all voters in the state, Republicans, Democrats, Independents alike. In West Virginia, respondents supported the bill, the For The People Act, by 79%! 79 to 15% in favor of the For The People Act, which Joe Manchin opposes. The Democratic proposal also enjoys high levels of support among Republicans, specifically, despite ongoing efforts from several right wing, dark money groups to have the state senators vote against it because, well, among other things, it gets their dark money out of our elections, and it helps prevent billionaires that run those dark money groups from buying elections. 

That's why, of course not a single Republican member is supporting the bill, nor will they support it. That's their money, as they see it, that's their way to buy elections. That would be taken away from them with HR one. 

Last month, the right wing, dark money group Heritage Action said that it will run television ads and activate volunteers in West Virginia in opposition of HR One, that according to Fox news. Jessica Anderson, the group's executive director said, "We have mobilized our 2 million grassroots activists across the country to drive calls, letters to the editor, and events in Manchin's backyard.

 Another dark money group, One Nation, announced that it will devote  $1.85 million to place TV and radio ads opposing the For The People Act and supporting the filibuster across both West Virginia and Arizona, where that state's democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema has also said she opposes filibuster reform, even as she has signed on to co-sponsor the For The People Act.

In West Virginia, 76% of registered Republican voters support For The People. 

In Arizona, the bill has support from 78% of registered Republicans, and 75% support from voters who backed Donald Trump in the 2020 election. 

In Arizona, the bill has support from 78% of registered Republicans and 75% support from voters who backed Donald Trump in the 2020 election. 

Nonetheless, that dark money pressure campaign does seem to be working on Manchin, at least according to CNBC. On Tuesday, they report the political advocacy group backed by billionaire. Charles Koch has been pressuring Joe Manchin to oppose key parts of the democratic agenda, including filibuster reform and voting rights legislation.

That lobbying effort appears to be paying off. Manchin, in a recent op ed, wrote that he opposed eliminating the filibuster, he would not vote for the, For The People Act, which advocates say would limit the influence of big donors on elections. Yes, big donors like Charles Koch. CNBC reviewed an episode of a Koch policy group, Americans For Prosperity who created a video series along with ads crafted by the organization calling on the group supporters to target Joe Manchin:

VOICEOVER:: [00:03:50] Senator Joe Manchin is right to put West Virginians first and vote against bad partisan policies. Encourage Senator Manchin to keep his promise, to reject a partisan agenda that will hold West Virginians back from reaching their full potential. 

JOE MANCHIN: [00:04:05] Absolutely. I'm telling you, unequivocably [sic], I'm not voting to pack any court. "Will you not vote to break the filibuster?" I says "On top of Robert C Bird's grave, I would make a commitment to you. I would never do that." 

VOICEOVER:: [00:04:20] Unnecessary red tape, energy mandates and big government solutions are wrong for the mountain state. Tell Senator Manchin "West Virginians depend on you to be the voice of reason in Washington!" 

Paid for by Americans For Prosperity. 

BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: [00:04:35] Yes. Well, Americans For Prosperity launched a website titled "West Virginia Values," which calls on people to email Manchin to be the voice West Virginia needs in DC. "Reject Washington's partisan agenda." Well  This partisan agenda, apparently, is supported by 79% of West Virginia voters, including 76% of registered Republicans. 

In a statement to CNBC, a spokesman for Americans For Prosperity did not deny whether its officials have spoken directly to Manchin or his staff about the For The People Act. The representative praised Manchin's stance on the bill. In an emailed statement on Tuesday, he said, "Senator Manchin has long blazed with his own path. And on this issue, we agree extreme partisanship gets in the way of finding positive solutions." Because you know, if there's anything the Koch network is known for, it is the positive non-partisan solutions that help everybody. 

Right? Some weeks ago we covered the New Yorkers report on a meeting between Koch leaders and representatives from other right-wing groups about how they have tried to stop HR One from passing, but that some of their own polling shows the campaign finance elements of the legislation is widely supported, especially when voters learned that the measure would, "Stop billionaires from buying elections." That, apparently, was wildly popular, even with, as a matter of fact, especially with Republicans. 

Here's some of that audio from the Americans For Prosperity conference call obtained by the watchdog group, Documented, as the AFP pollster here, Kyle McKenzie had the unenviable job of explaining to the right wing groups that HR One, the For The People Act was very popular across the board, especially when it came to preventing billionaires, like Americans For Prosperity's  funders, the Koch network from buying elections:  

KYLE MCKENZIE: [00:06:43] When presented with a very neutral description of HR One, people were generally supportive. , um, And, the most worrisome part, which Grover mentioned at the very beginning of his presentation, is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description of HR One.

Um, you know, There's a large, very large chunk of conservatives who , um, are supportive of these types of efforts. Don't get into a fight. Uh, in HR One where you, where you engage with the other side where they have the talking point: "HR One stops billionaires from buying elections." Um, Unfortunately we found that, that is a winning message , um, for both , um, you know, the general public and also conservatives , um, you know, That simple message, by far and away was resonated with people. And , uh, and you know, when they had to compare that message versus tons of other ones, they were most persuaded by that. And they found that to be most convincing and most... you know, 

BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: [00:07:51] Unfortunately, the message that billionaires should not be able to buy elections is very popular. Unfortunately.

How Kyrsten Sinema Sold Out w/ Aída Chávez - Start Making Sense - Air Date 3-31-21

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:07:59] And we have to talk about filibuster reform. She has said she opposes abolishing the filibuster. There's still a lot of room there for varieties of abolishing the filibuster for a single bill or for a single issue, or require a stepped reduction in the super majority required to end a debate. 

The reason the filibuster reform is so important is to pass the voting rights bill, SB 1, which was introduced in the Senate. Arizona is one of those states where a series of bills have introduced in the state legislature to dramatically restrict access to the ballot. The proposals in Arizona include removing 200,000 voters from the voter lists of people who are automatically sent mail-in ballots because they did not vote by mail in two prior elections. They would require that mail-in ballots be postmarked the Thursday before the election in order to be counted. There's very strict ID requirements. So it's a big campaign to undermine mail-in voting, which 80% of Arizonans used in the last election.

All of these would be blocked if the Congress passed SB 1, and Kyrsten Sinema is a co-sponsor of SB 1, but this bill won't pass without filibuster reform. So how do you understand her opposition to reforming the filibuster? Her own political future would seem to depend on this. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:09:33] It does. And she won't be up for reelection right up next, but, Mark Kelly is, and both of them won by smaller margins. And so it's really both in their interests to do whatever they can to help get rid of the filibuster so they can pass this. And it's ironic because even as a member of the state legislature, she fought pretty vigorously attempts from the other party to impose like many of these similar restrictions on voting and attempts at voter suppression.

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:10:05] And it turns out it's not just the minimum wage and filibuster reform where she has taken these extreme positions. I learned from your piece at thenation.com that Kyrsten Sinema has voted for Trump's positions about half the time she's been in the Senate. That is shocking. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:10:25] Yeah, throughout her career, you see her siding with Republicans very often on issues surrounding immigration. More recently she voted to try to block undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks. That was a symbolic measure, it wasn't something like, oh, she voted for it now it's going to happen. But, considering that Latinos and progressives fought really hard to get her elected in the first place, they take it as a direct betrayal. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:10:52] Let's talk about Arizona politics for a minute. Her 2018 campaign targeted moderate Republican voters and suburban women alienated by Trump. Some people would say that was smart politics in Arizona in 2018. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:11:07] I'd say a combination of these long-lasting demographic changes. The state is increasingly Brown and Black. It's very young, the Latino population skews young. And so you have these more progressive, younger voters combined with decades of organizing around immigration issues that awaken a whole new generation. Those things are simply not sustainable with the kind of campaigning and the kind of politics that mainstream Democrats like Sinema like Kelly are pushing in the state. Even the media still tends to repeat the narrative that Arizona is a very right-wing state, and so the only way to win is by appealing to the center. And so I think increasingly as time goes on, we're going to see the contradictions between this growing base and what the establishment wants to keep doing.

Filibuster Helps Manchin Hide In Plain Sight w/ David Sirota - The Majority Report - Air Date 6-12-21

DAVID SIROTA: [00:12:06] Many years ago, in 2000--, I think, was 2006, I interviewed Barack Obama. I spent a day with him. And we were talking about healthcare, and he made an argument about healthcare, healthcare reform. And his argument was basically, "I want to reform the system; I'm not a revolutionary, I'm a reformer." And I bring that up because, what it said to me at the time is, that, this was a Democratic leader speaking about really a broader Democratic culture that is conflict averse and is afraid of structurally changing the power dynamic in a way that could be considered unprecedented, right?

The Democratic Party is a conflict averse party that is not comfortable with the idea of making structural changes that would be portrayed as  "First ever; historic; sort of, a new  paradigm." And I think we are now living in the... in the ultimate culmination of that, where you have a Democratic Party that is not willing to structurally change, for instance, the filibuster rules to structurally then change the election system.

And I think it goes to this deep innate fear of actual change; that as much as the Democratic Party campaigns on "Hope and Change," it is a party that is incredibly afraid of making change. Now, the cynical take would be, "They're not afraid of making change; they actually don't want to make change." I think it's a mix.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:13:31] Yeah. I..  I, I would agree with that. 

Now, if you remember this, they deployed Kamala Harris to go to do local media in West Virginia and in Arizona in the run-up to the vote on the stimulus bill. Supposedly Manchin was upset by it.

And there was a different dynamic at that time, cuz you had Jim Justice, who was the Republican governor of West Virginia, former Democrat, et cetera, et cetera, coming out and saying  "We want our $2,000 checks." And I would imagine that put a little pressure on Joe Manchin and he came out and said, like, "I didn't appreciate her coming down here," and that type of thing.

But it certainly got  Sinema in line, and we don't see that yet. And so let's just turn to what we do see: Joe Biden negotiates with [WV Senator, Republican] Capito for, I don't know, four weeks, which was probably like three and a half weeks too long, and then immediately pivots to this Gang of Ten.

And I want to be clear: it's a gang of five Republicans and a gang of five Democrats, and they need 10 Republicans to vote for this right now. I guess it's conceivable, there's another five Republicans out there who are just, like, "I'm gonna let these guys negotiate on my behalf," but that's not happening.

 It's Joe Biden's still on the... "I'm going to show Joe Manchin. illustrate to Joe Manchin, that it's impossible to come to a deal," situation, because the January Sixth Commission, if that didn't prove it to Joe Manchin, or wasn't substantial enough to him to use as a fig leaf for the narrative he creates in West Virginia, which is probably more the case, this isn't going to do it.

DAVID SIROTA: [00:15:07] No, I completely agree. I think this is, this goes back to Joe Biden. I think being, fundamentally... having spent 40 years in the Senate and prioritizing... things are good if you have Gangs of Five or Gangs of Ten, or, you know, things are defined as good, if you can convince Republicans to join with Democrats.

And the problem with that viewpoint is that... does anybody remember how the greatest things in American history pass? Does anybody remember those roll call votes? Like, the answer is "No." The answer is, that what we remember are changes to the law that materially improve people's lives. So the real problem here, or one real problem here, is this holding up of, "As long as a bill has bipartisan support, it must be good; as long as the roll call vote is like 75- 25, this must be good." 

And of course, if you roll back history, there are a lot of things that passed with those vote counts that are really bad: Wall Street deregulation, the Iraq War, but I can go through the, the list here, but the things that tend to pass the U S Senate with huge majorities are the things that either do nothing, or at least from historical precedent have been bad.

 So the question that I don't really understand, unless you go to the cynical idea that maybe Biden really doesn't want these things to happen, but if you discount that, then what you're looking at is, kind of, a religion of bipartisanship that is unmoored from what it should and is actually truly valued in society.

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:16:40] With all this said, it appears like there's not going to be any type of a voting bill that is going to get passed, unless Joe Manchin can be convinced to reform the filibuster only to pass the John Lewis Bill, but that one has its problems too, in that it can't be passed for months because of requirements for public hearings and whatnot. and it's not retroactive. So the worst of offenses that these states could perpetrate on voters essentially will have been completed. And then will have been grandfathered in to this new Voting Rights Act; and just to be clear, the original Voting Rights Act was specifically about what our grandfathers had done and our fathers and, maybe, probably, our brothers and our sons, in terms of keeping, of disenfranchising people. The idea of grandfathering in already disenfranchising laws is just absurd to me..

DAVID SIROTA: [00:17:40] 

It is. and I think the... Look. the... what we've seen when it comes to democracy is the Democratic Party is not behaving with the urgency that that the situation requires. I don't want to be, like, dark and super dystopian here, but you have seen state, after state, after state controlled by Republicans aggressively trying to, and succeeding. in making it harder to vote. 

There is a... it's not an overstatement, it's not hyperbolic to say that there is a, an assault happening on democracy. And the Democratic Party is effectively unilaterally disarming in Washington. The obvious, crazy hypocrisy of Joe Manchin about saying, "I want to respect the rules," is you have a situation where Republicans are changing the rules in the state level and the Democrats aren't using power in Washington to protect the right to vote. 

And what's really crazy, what's really disturbing about it, is that we look back on history, when it comes to desegregation, when it comes to voting rights, as, the history of that is, the heroic history, is the federal government marching into states to protect the right to vote, to protect equality, right?

The famous Norman Rockwell photo of the little girl going into the, into the school, the first girl, African-American girl to go into the White school, this is considered, we put that on a pedestal, and rightly so. and the story behind that is that the federal government had to intervene.

And what we are now seeing is the opposite, that the Republicans are waging that war in the states and the federal government is essentially gridlocked by a filibuster, unwilling, unable, and refusing to use that same power. So it's really super disturbing. And and the crazy thing to me is like, why is this party not acting with urgency? Especially because it's in the party's short-term political self-interest on top of everything! Not only is it like moral and right, and this moment in history, but it's... this is to protect you as well!

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:19:38] Well, there doesn't seem to be  a unified Democratic, sort of, like, assessment of what  is in the party's interest; Joe Manchin is thinking about what's in Joe Manchin's interests; Mark Warner is thinking about what's in Mark Warner's interests.

DAVID SIROTA: [00:19:50] Right. But here's the thing, Sam: West Virginia is literally passing laws to limit voting rights. Like, I don't think that's in Joe Manchin's, even his interest. Making sure lots of people vote is essentially in the Democratic Party's interest.

If you believe that the Republicans are, are in the population at large, are a minority party or at least a party that represents a minority of views not the majoritarian viewpoint. So the fact that...  they're not willing to save themselves, is what I'm saying.

Breaking Down President Biden's $6 Trillion 2022 Budget - The Takeaway - Air Date 5-28-21

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY: [00:20:22] The World War II discourse is instructive here because it is post-World War II America that becomes the global power we understand ourselves to be, in large part because of that spending. And of course also because of the massive war that took us into that space.

But I'm also thinking that in that moment, there was a lot of partisan unity, which is to say that Democrats ran the board at that time. That is not the situation we're in now. These very slim majorities are not what Roosevelt was facing. So is there any possibility that this can in fact pass through the government we have right now?

MAYA KING: [00:20:58] I think you make a great point by mentioning the slim majority here, because even then that has gotten in the way of Democrats' ability to really push through the agenda that they have in place. And I think really what there'll be reliant upon is reconciliation, and bringing in that third party to be able to push through the terms of this spending that they really do want to see come to fruition.

And it's very clear that Democrats, especially in Congress, have gotten much more comfortable with leaving Republicans behind and getting these bills across. Certainly the American Rescue Plan is I think a really good example of that. And the point that the Biden administration has been making is that they consider this point in this time in America, post pandemic, post economic downturn, which we're still very much in, as one that would wake up both parties to really the urgency of getting some serious spending passed that hasn't really crystallized yet. But I'm wondering, and what I'm looking for, and especially in my reporting, is whether or not there'll be able to hammer that point home so that they won't have to exactly pull out the nuclear option to get this all through.

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY: [00:21:58] Heather, in my household, there are two big anxieties about what's not in there, right? One is the Medicare age being lowered to 60 is not in there. And for my for my college age daughter, the $15 minimum wage is not in there. And she's working minimum wage this summer and not happy to see that is not in there.

So why aren't some of those big pieces that we'd heard on the campaign trail, why aren't they in this enormous package? 

HEATHER LONG: [00:22:27] Yeah, that's an excellent question. I would throw in two more to that list that are surprising that were on the campaign trail and are not part of this big first budget package. And that is there's no student debt relief or student debt cancellation, even up to that first $10,000 that was talked about a lot on the campaign trail. And similar to you, you mentioned not lowering the Medicare age, also no public option. So on the campaign trail, the president was very adamant about wanting to push some sort of national federal public option for health insurance. And we don't see that in this part of this as well. The White House keeps saying, oh, we still support these, that they would be after this 2022 package, these would be the next wave of things or that they could potentially move simultaneously. I think we've seen that Congress is not good at multitasking. There's a lot here they're already supposed to do with these infrastructure bills that were supposed to be the first one they had hoped would pass by Memorial Day weekend, and that hasn't happened. 

I think the way I would read this is it's interesting what fell out when the priorities had to be written on paper, it was interesting what did not make it. And while they're still giving lip service to these items, and are still on the dream list for president Biden, I think reality has set in that the Democrats probably only have one or two more big bills that they can pass. And these items do not appear to be on that list. 

What Does Joe Manchin Want? John Nichols on Filibuster Reform - Start Making Sense - Air Date 6-9-21

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:24:00] I guess one possibility that's being talked about is amending this act to something that would be more acceptable to Joe Manchin and that would focus on these most egregious threats. Congress could establish uniform rules for how to count votes, how to certify election challenges. Joe Manchin does say he would support, he will support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which restores the federal oversight of elections that the supreme court removed a few years ago. Even the John Lewis Voting Rights Act is not going to pass without filibuster reform, and Joe Manchin says he won't vote for filibuster reform. So that takes me back to my opening question, what does Joe Manchin want? 

And rather than just condemning him as a tool of Republicans, I thought we should talk a little bit about what are his politics? Where does he come from in the Democratic party? He's not a tool of the Republicans. 

JOHN NICHOLS: [00:24:58] I've covered Joe Manchin for a long time, and I can tell you, when you ask what does Joe Manchin want? He wants us to be talking about him right now. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:25:06] We're doing our part. 

JOHN NICHOLS: [00:25:07] He's got a bit of an ego. Joe Manchin's office is the first to get me a press release. He is very available for those Sunday morning shows. He is never going to be the leader of the Senate the way that Robert Bird was, one of his predecessors, but he can perhaps be the John McCain of this time. The outlier member of a party whose decision on how he goes on every particular issue becomes definitional in our politics. 

Why does Joe Manchin want that? Number one, as I suggested, he has got a bit of an ego. Number two, he represents a state that has swung politically. As recently as the 1980s, as an example, West Virginia was so reliably Democratic that when Mike Dukakis was with losing places like California and Vermont, he won West Virginia, and that's what Joe Manchin came up in. He came up in that kind of politics. That is gone. It's over. West Virginia has Republicans in all their top jobs. It has Republicans representing them in Congress. In many ways, Joe Manchin is the last Democrat standing at a higher level. There's local Dems, but at this higher level he's a very rare figure in that state. 

My sense is that he believes that if he makes himself a John McCain type figure, the outlier, the Renegade legislator, that might be enough to keep him viable in West Virginia, even if he does somethings that go against where the Republicans are at. And to be quite clear, this is a guy who did in fact vote to impeach Donald Trump, so he's got some space there to work in. And one of the things that I've seen, that's interesting--by the way I'm not here trying to defend Manchin--I think that what he should have done on the For the People Act, which is a broadly good piece of legislation and it has a lot that addresses corporate power and all sorts of other things, what he should have done is be a leader and explain that to the people in West Virginia and say why he was going to back it. So that's where I'm at with this guy. 

But if he's put us in this position, then I give credit to the groups that are reaching out to him and meeting with him, including voting rights groups that are saying, okay, you have really caused us a problem here, a big problem, what are you going to do, what are you willing to do to try and fix it? Can we write something new? Can we come up with some sort of new model that makes it possible to enact some protections against really the dimunition of democracy, which by the way, Manchin himself has talked about. So there's a space there for that discussion, but then you get to the deeper reality and that is this discussion about the filibuster. His refusal, and that of a number of other Democrats, to move on the filibuster is frankly the real crisis, at least in Washington, as regards our democracy. 

And here I'm working on a piece now that'll go up in the next few days about how Dr. King, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., dealt with the filibuster back in the 1960s. And it's important to understand that in the 1960s, when the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act, when these pieces of legislation were passed there was a filibuster threat. It was real. In fact, as recently as 1957, Strom Thurmond had filibustered a civil rights bill and it'd been a real struggle to get it through, and that was in the days, even when they still had the talking filibuster as opposed to the monstrosity that they have now when they don't even have to stand up and do anything. 

And so King knew this was a threat, he knew it was a problem. He went to Washington and before the Civil Rights Bill came up, he appeared on national television shows, the Sunday morning shows, he went to the Senate, sat in the gallery, he did every interview he could, and basically what he said was this. If at this point, after everything we've been through, they try to use the filibuster, we will have to go to the streets, and he made it very clear that the filibuster itself would become a central issue in a mass mobilization extending from the civil rights and voting rights movement at that time. 

A lot of Democrats, including Southern Democrats, were clearly shaken by that. They took seriously that commitment by the leading advocate for non-violent civil disobedience in the United States and a guy who was, at that point, a monumental figure in our politics and in our public life, and they got through it without a serious filibuster problem. So we can talk and talk and talk about how to get inside Joe Manchin's head. We can talk about what we wish Joe Biden would do or what we wish Chuck Schumer would do, but I believe that we've gotten to the point where we have to take our advice from Dr. King, and that is to say that at a point when our democracy is threatened and when we have the ProAct, which extends labor rights, when we have the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, so many other monumental pieces of legislation that are being stopped by a awful, absurd, non constitutional structure that says, oh, you got to get 60 votes to make anything happen. Well, I think it's time to go to the streets. 

Mass mobilization around the filibuster issue led by folks like Reverend Barber and perhaps even a former President of the United States named Barack Obama could really be what's needed at this point to get Democrats to fully grow that spine. This doesn't involve Republicans. This involves 50 Democrats coming together and Kamala Harris saying the filibuster is done. But I'm telling you, if it doesn't happen soon, the damage that is done by our delay and by our neglect could be irreversible.

Joe Manchin Gets Candid With Billionaire Donors in Leaked Audio - Deconstructed - Air Date 6-16-21

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:30:52] He details a number of objections there. It seems like he's opposed to barring voter ID requirements. He's opposed to automatic voter registration. He's opposed to restricting purging of the voter rolls. Is this something that we knew before, when it came to his reservations? 

LEE FANG: [00:31:08] I don't believe he's made these objections front and center or were really public. If you actually look last week in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, that's the main paper in West Virginia, his state, Joe Manchin wrote a whole op-ed laying out his opposition to the For the People Act, this voting rights/civil rights bill from Democrats. And in this op-ed, he makes a number of arguments, but they're largely about the lack of bipartisan support for this legislation. 

He does not make the argument that secretaries of state need to be purging their voter rolls, a very controversial dynamic that critics argue suppresses the vote by making it much harder for infrequent voters or people who have moved to know that they're registered to vote regularly. People don't realize they just have to re-register to vote and then they lose the ability to vote in an election. And same day voting that, again, if there are problems with registering that gives people the ability to vote if they miss the deadline or whatever-- to participate in an election. 

In this op-ed that he published just last week, he doesn't make these arguments, but he's making these fairly detailed arguments to this group of mega donors, including many billionaires, and he's saying, he's going to write down his detailed objections to the law and send them to Nancy Jacobson, the co-founder of No Labels, and then she will distribute it to the donors. It's really a different, a completely different, what he's saying in public versus what he's saying privately to this group of donors. 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:32:34] And the most generous, the most charitable read would be that he just hadn't been paying attention to it up until the last few days, but I hesitate to even credit that, and it fits with the pattern that you'd identified earlier.

And so for all of, for this to work, Democrats probably need to reform the filibuster. We're unlikely to see ten Republicans agree to even a watered down, Joe Manchin-style version of the John Lewis voting rights bill. The most that Manchin talks about money in this meeting is in the following clip. Let's play that part. 

JOE MANCHIN: [00:33:09] The bottom line is just find out who basically cares more about the country and do about themselves. I don't know how to tell you that. You would not be in the position that you are, with the success you've had, if you couldn't read people and tell if it's self service or public service. And they can only BS you so long, pretty much the truth comes out, and right now, what I'm asking for, I need to go back, I need to find three more good Republican senators that will vote for the commission, so that at least we can tamp them down, where people say Republicans won't even do the simple lift, common sense, of basically voting to do a commission that was truly bipartisan. 

So once the people - and it really emboldens the far left saying I showed you, how's that bipartisan working for you now Joe? Those are the hard things. That's where I need help in 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:33:57] Later in this episode, we'll talk more about the commission and Manchin's interest in the commission. 

But what he seems to be saying here, Lee, is that he's getting a direct question from a donor about where they should direct their finances, and what he's telling them is that, look, I need help getting more Republicans to join, to vote for this January 6th commission, because it's giving the far left all of this ammunition to say, look, see you can't work with these Republicans. How are you going to cut a deal with them when they won't even investigate the January 6th ransacking of the Capitol, that's even after they were given everything they asked for on the commission? 

So he's saying, those are the people that you need to send your money to, which is, okay, I guess he's trying to save democracy or something, but he's pretty much directly saying that he wants donors to finance Republicans so that they will endorse the January 6 commission so that he can save the filibuster, so that he can then help those donors enact all of their much broader agenda. 

Am I reading too much into that? What was your take on that segment? 

LEE FANG: [00:35:03] No. I had the same sense, Ryan, from listening to this. If you zoom out, from 50,000 feet and look at this it's actually remarkable. These are hedge fund, private equity, finance billionaires, corporate executives, who want to preserve low taxes, preferential tax treatment. They're concerned with the government stepping in and taking up the role that the private sector plays in various industries as well, perhaps in part of the infrastructure bill. So for those reasons they want to preserve the filibuster, which is, procedural obstacle to changing any of those policies and what Manchin, I think, very cleverly points out is that the way you preserve the filibuster is by taking away the argument that Republicans can never come to the table, can never act in a bipartisan way, and that it's become a political football, but this very emotionally driven event, this event that's become this huge spectacle that Democrats and many people across the country obsess over and talk about is this January 6th incident. That Democrats want this commission, and so what Manchin says what some of the Democratic party want to do is say that because Republicans won't work with Democrats to institute this commission to investigate and further investigate this January 6th, we might lose the filibuster. So if you care about the filibuster, perhaps for those other reasons, for all these reasons the donors care about the filibuster, get your campaign dollars, get on the phone with Republicans you have a connection to, and get them to support this commission, because otherwise the filibuster could be gone, and without the filibuster, a lot of other things could happen. 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:36:42] And he doesn't just stop there, immediately afterwards he starts naming names and telling them specifically who they should go after. So let's just roll that clip from right from there. 

JOE MANCHIN: [00:36:52] And here's the thing, let me just tell you - okay, I'll give you some names here. Roy Blunt is great, just a good friend of mine, a great guy. Okay. You would like to think that Roy’s retiring, and some of you all who might be working with Roy in his next life could tell him that it would be nice and help our country, that we’re going to be very good at getting him to change his vote, and we’re gonna have another vote on this thing.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:37:12] Okay, that's incredible. Let's stop that right there, Lee. “Roy Blunt is great.” He’s “a good friend of mine.” Okay, you would like to think that Roy is retiring - basically, if some of you all might be worth working with Roy in his next life could tell him that it'd be nice to and help our country.

He is specifically telling them - 

LEE FANG: [00:37:30] It's a revolving door. Saying, hey, we want to offer Roy Blunt a job when he joins your corporate board - 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:37:37] Let him know now that you will do that, which is not legal, let's be clear. That would break the law. 

LEE FANG: [00:37:44] And to be clear, this is the form of semi-legal, technically illegal, although it happens all the time, bribery, that's very common in the United States. In many other countries it's a briefcase full of cash or whatever. In America, if you want to bribe a Senator or Congressman with hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars, you can't give it to them directly. What you do is you promise them a consulting job, a board of directors position, something of that nature after they retire. So they then become indebted to you. They vote the way you expect them to, they behave politically as expected, because they're hoping for their payday the second they retire. 

So what Manchin is saying is that Roy Blunt, senator from Missouri, his a good friend, is retiring. He's gonna be, you're looking for that private sector gig as he's covertly on the job market, and the people on the call, the corporate executives and Wall Street titans are recruiting him. Part of the recruitment is, "hey, join this commission for the January 6th incident, but to save the filibuster." 

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:38:48] Incredible irony that you would be doing this to quote-unquote, save democracy.

LEE FANG: [00:38:53] That's right, too.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:38:54] So let's keep rolling that, because he's got more names. 

JOE MANCHIN: [00:38:58] They'll give him one more shot at it, the Democrats will. If I ask Schumer and Pelosi and say, “I would like to have another vote before you roll this out completely on this bipartisan commission," you've got that, you've got basically Richard Burr voted for the impeachment, but then he didn't vote for this for whatever reason. And I know he thought because we're doing all these other commissions, how are we really, truly doing a bi-partisan commission out of the political realm that we're in right now. 

And my good friend, Joe Lieberman, understands that. Joe is looking at things differently today than he looked at when he was inside the Senate. He’s clear, I’m sure, that he can speak out more freely. Right, Joe? 

JOE LIEBERMAN: [00:39:36] Well, what I see is you're being a hero, Joe, and I appreciate it very much. And I can get the biggest kick when I read people comparing your role with the one I played occasionally. It's not easy. It's not always popular, but boy, you said it - which is you're putting the country ahead of party and person, and in the spirit of bipartisanship, may I quote the great John McCain who used to say, "there is no greater satisfaction than serving a cause larger than yourself." And you're doing it. So we're here to help you. God bless you.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: [00:40:17] Let’s stop it there. Lee, do you think that they are so far gone, that they recognize the clash between talking about serving a cause larger than themselves just a breath away from suggesting that these billionaires dangle a post senate gig in front of a senator, so that he'll change his vote to help preserve the filibuster? Do you think that even registers anymore?

LEE FANG: [00:40:44] It's hard to say. I feel like many of these folks that you could analyze this from the outside and see lots of hypocrisy, but if you talk to these type of donors or these type of politicians, many of them genuinely believe that their preservation of the status quo and moderate form of politics is patriotic and serving the country. So, you know, hard to say.

Does America Have a Chance At Democracy? - Thom Hartmann Program - Air Date 6-12-21

THOM HARTMANN - HOST, THOM HARTMANN PROGRAM: [00:41:07] The bottom line is when a country's politics stops being about issues. we're not really seriously debating issues right now, we're debating identity. Who should be in charge. that's the essence of this whole thing with Joe Manchin and  White Supremacy has now officially gone bi-partisan.

No, I realize a white supremacy has always been bi-partisan, but many of us hoped that the Democratic Party would abandon White Supremacy. That was the, kind of, the official position in 1965. But  when a country's politics stop being about policy and start being about identity, that country is starting to go through some sort of major, or as in the middle of, some sort of major societal change.

And part of that society is pushing back aggressively. And that's exactly what's happening here in the United States. And it boils down to this question of, are we going to continue to be, in terms of who controls the levers of power, both at the political level and at the business level, are we going to continue to be basically a White, Christian, male dominated ethno state, or will we become a multi-racial multi-religious kind of multidimensional multiethnic, pluralistic democracy? And  Joe Manchin just tossed in with the white ethno state folks, basically. The election of Obama --this, by the way, this is my rant this morning, over hartmanreport.com as well-- the election of Obama was, in my opinion, a statement of the possibility that America could become a multi-racial democracy, but the backlash,  you could argue, and a number of people have over the years, that the backlash to the Obama presidency is what brought us Trump... I'm not sure that's entirely true, but I think that is a piece of the analysis. And we're certainly seeing it in a big way right now here. 

Here's why in, in 1965, when the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were passed, America was over 80% white, over 85% white, in fact. Today we're about 60% white. And a lot of that change came about because in 1965,  LBJ pushed through Congress a change to our immigration laws that basically stopped racial quotas. It used to be that we would only accept a number of immigrants from a, from a country whose... meh-- citizen... how do I say this? if America was 10% black in 19--  prior to 1965, we would not accept black citizens from countries that were predominantly black as more than 10% of all our immigrants. If we were 90, 80% white, we had to accept 80%, white people from principally white countries. That was the law up until 1965. And LBJ just blew that up and said, "No more racial quotas." 

And then Reagan actually increased that with his amnesty. He brought three million Hispanics into the population and also basically told white employers you'll no longer go to jail for hiring people who aren't citizens which led to another big wave of immigration.

And so America is now much more diverse than we were 50, 60 years ago.

And Joe Manchin yesterday, or day before yesterday, published this, op-ed saying that Democrats are "Politi-" this is a quote from his article, "Politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections."   You know, 2020 was the most secure election in history. Right? Look at all the, votes that got counted and recounted and recounted again, more people were struck by a lightning last year than committed voter fraud. Rep (D-NY)] Mondaire Jones tweeted, "Manchin's op-ed might as well be titled 'Why I'll vote to preserve Jim Crow.'" And I, you know, I think it's, it's a pretty good one. The only people talking about securing our elections other than Joe Manchin are Republicans. 

So here's the bottom line: from the founding of the Republic from 1776 until 1920, when women got the vote with the 19th amendment, the big question was, "Can White men govern themselves or basically govern the country?" From 1920 to 1965, the question was, "Can White men and women, White women govern the country?" And, but since 1965, the question should have become, or finally become, "Can America function as a multiracial, multiethnic multi-religious democracy?"

And the Republicans sadly are saying, "No." And Joe Manchin has joined them in that. 

By the way the US Chamber of Commerce just announced that they are-- which is by the way, the largest lobbying group in the United States-- the US Chamber of Commerce just announced-- David Lauder writing over at Reuters,

"The U S chamber said it is backing Democratic Senators Joe Manson and Kirsten Sinema with campaign contributions as a reward for their opposition to Joe Biden's legislative initiatives, and for trying to work with--"

right. Now I did see,  one commentator who gets-- a Palmer report guy who, who gets some coverage-- saying, "Oh no they're playing three-dimensional chess, essentially. What you're seeing right now is a very awkward dance from a mediocre politician who's trying to be so loud about opposing voting rights legislation, no one will notice when he ends up quietly voting for it." I don't think so. 

So, can we become a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, genuinely pluralistic democratic nation?

How Kyrsten Sinema Sold Out w/ Aída Chávez Part 2 - Start Making Sense - Air Date 3-31-21

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:46:47] Let's start in 2002, when Kyrsten Sinema was preparing to run for a seat in the Arizona state house of representatives, what were her politics?

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:46:57] In 2002, she actually published a letter in the Arizona Republic where she puts forth a critique of capitalism, saying capitalism brought us NAFTA, it brought us the World Bank, and as long as we have this system, the dollar will be prioritized over working people here and working people abroad.

And it couldn't be more of a stark contrast to who she is today. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:47:24] And how did she do in that first race that she ran in 2002? 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:47:28] She did really poorly. She lost. she came in last place. Next time she ran for office, she ran as a Democrat and did better, and won. She was in the state legislature. She was actually considered one of the more progressive, if not the most progressive member of the state legislature. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:47:44] And in between was the start of the Iraq war, which was a big issue for her. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:47:50] Yeah. A lot of her activism was specifically anti-war activism. She organized over a dozen rallies and her biggest one in Phoenix attracted thousands of people. If you look at the flyers that she was distributing at the time for it, the coalition of groups that were putting together these rallies, they're pretty explicitly against Bush's imperialist, fascist war, is what they call it. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:48:17] When she went to the Arizona state legislature, as you've said, as a Democrat in 2004, and she was first elected to Congress in 2012 to represent parts of Phoenix and Tempe. And then at 2018 was when she ran for the Senate against Martha McSally, remind us what that race was like. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:48:38] Yeah. So I think at all of these different points in her career, she began shifting right. she did shift to the right throughout her time in the legislature, she wasn't as old as she was when she entered. When she is elected to Congress as a member of the House, she joins the blue dog coalition. That is a very pro-corporate faction of the Democratic party. They caucus together, work as a block. 

When she ran for the Senate, I think is when you see a more drastic shift to the right. In her campaign ads she would tell her hawkishness and how she would support more military spending than her Republican opponent Martha McSally. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:49:18] And the Republicans used her left-wing past against her in that race. 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:49:23] They try to smear her as some extreme, left-wing activist. At one point Martha McSally accused her of treason. They called her a Prada socialist. They circulated pictures of her wearing a pink tutu from back in her antiwar days. That was really the messaging that they stuck to. And I think it explains in part why it didn't work. It didn't resonate with voters because she is very clearly not a too left-wing person, 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:49:58] Not a Prada socialist.

The thing that brought her to prominence in our world was when she announced that she opposed including the $15 minimum wage in the COVID relief bill. Joe Manchin also joined her in this position. Her argument was that it wasn't COVID relief. Fair enough. So then the question is what would you support for a federal minimum wage? She tweeted the day that she announced her opposition to the $15 minimum wage that was coming before the Senate. She tweeted what her argument was. I want to read this tweet and see if you can figure out what she actually supports. She says, "I know the difference better wages can make, which is why I helped lead Arizona's effort to pass an indexed minimum wage in 2006. And why I strongly supported the voter-approved state minimum wage increase in 2016." Then she says, "No poor person who works full-time should live in poverty." Okay. Then she says, "The Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill. I will keep working with colleagues in both parties to ensure Americans can access good paying jobs." Did she say there what minimum wage she would vote for? 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:51:24] No, I found that pretty incoherent. She uses the excuse of procedure. But I think anywhere you look, you find that the state of Arizona overwhelmingly supports an increase in the minimum wage.

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:51:37] And Joe Manchin has said he would support $11. And then there's this question of when: if you did $11 immediately, would you support $12 in two years and $15 in four years, which is actually what Bernie Sanders' original proposal was, to have a step increase. I don't think she's ever said she would support that kind of bill either, has she?

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:51:57] Not that I know of. 

JON WEINER - HOST, START MAKING SENSE: [00:51:58] I know that it's been a lot of activism among progressives in Arizona, especially around her opposition to the federal minimum wage bill. What can you tell us about that? And what does she said in response to her progressive critics? 

AIDA CHAVEZ: [00:52:14] This really angered progressives and even a lot of more mainstream liberals in Arizona, not only because it's a very popular measure, but because she not only broke with the party, she broke with her own colleague. Senator Mark Kelly voted for it. And that's proved that even when representing a state like Arizona, there's still room to support things that the party does.

And so progressives and organizations, they've been talking about someone needs to primary her. They've been having protests in her home state. They've been going after her with ads even. There have been like a couple of more progressive PACS launching radio ads. And so I think this is going to be a thing that people don't forget and it's going to come back to bite her.

Filibuster Helps Manchin Hide In Plain Sight w/ David Sirota Part 2 - The Majority Report - Air Date 6-12-21

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:53:05] Tough week for folks who had any type of aspirations for the Biden administration, it feels like. 

It started with Joe Manchin reiterating, in some ways, but maybe in clear tones... I don't know...  He had an op-ed in the West Virginia paper saying that he wasn't going to support the For The People Act, which he had stated before; and he was not going to, it seems like, under any circumstance, vote to weaken or remove the filibuster. 

And he also laid out this concept of bipartisanship, that a bill is bipartisan only if Republicans vote for it. Which on one level I can understand, but the other is, what if they helped create it, and gave a list of demands, and every one of those demands was met, and it set up a commission where every one of the Republicans on the commission would have the exact same powers as the Democrats? That, to me, also sounds like a bipartisan piece of legislation, but the Republicans didn't vote for that. 

What's your take on the whole Manchin thing?

DAVID SIROTA: [00:54:08] First of all, I do think the way we use the term bipartisan is distorted. A bill that has 80% support, including significant support among Republicans, rank and file Republican voters, and independent voters; that's a different version of bi-partisan. So the way we define or the way the term bipartisan is used in politics is bi-partisan is what a handful, a tiny handful of people in Washington who have Rs and Ds behind their name can come together on.

It's not necessarily a definition of what's actually bipartisan in the United States of America as a whole. And that's a real, that's a real problem, that's a long-term problem. 

I think with Manchin... Look, I, I think that... we should not underestimate the power of "Narcissistic Spotlight Syndrome." Okay? And Narcissistic Spotlights Syndrome is, "I don't have any ideology at all, other than, that I want to be at the center of the circus." And we've seen this before. Politician-- excuse me, politics tends to self-select for people like that. 

John McCain had that, I would argue, had that syndrome. He was all over the map on issues and you couldn't really put any ideological thread together to connect a lot of his positions, except for the fact that him being so unpredictable and all over the place kept him in the center of the spotlight. 

And the problem with dealing with somebody like that is, the media, grassroots, interest groups, advocates, are putting forward arguments on their merits. Like, how can Joe Manchin say he's for democracy, if he's supporting a filibuster to kill the For The People Act? That's a fair question on the merits. But what if the answer is just: his behavior, doing that keeps him at the center of attention, keeps him with the circus circling around him, and that's the reason why he's doing it? 

Now, I'm not trying to psychoanalyze Joe Manchin here, but I think we have to appreciate the fact that, that his behavior may not be predicated on the merits of policy arguments, on the merits of even traditional political calculation, other than the fact that he's a human being, lots of human beings get dopamine shots in their brain when they feel like they're the center of attention, and that's what we're, that's what we may actually be dealing with. And what's crazy is that's what American democracy may now be hinging on, which is insane to think about. 

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:56:31] We went through this with Joe Lieberman, the, back, certainly during the ACA when he just completely did a 180 on his position with the Medicare buy-in and lowered Medicare age.

DAVID SIROTA: [00:56:43] Yep.  

SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:56:43] What did, what about the... and, I think you're, I think you're absolutely right that the calculus that is being applied to his decision may be just too narrow in terms of not contemplating other things. 

There also seems to me a... an... another possibility, and none of these are mutually exclusive, that, you've got a tremendous amount of Koch money that, by... by... Koch industry money, in West Virginia; you've got, there's, we know that there's  other reluctant, let's say  buster-- anti filibuster reform, Democratic senators, are using Joe Manchin as a cover a little bit. 

Because one of the theories is like, why doesn't Joe Biden go down there and say to Joe Manchin, "Whatever you want!" Which I imagine he's done. Like he, must've gone to Joe Bi-- Joe Manchin and said the Joe Manchin Civic Center, the Joe Manchin Route 37, whatever it is. Like, "You want it in the infrastructure bill? It's there!" And the problem is that we don't know if those other senators who are reluctant about getting rid of the filibuster as well, because they don't want to take certain votes and they don't want to be exposed for being against certain things, they don't want to be put between a rock and a hard place with their corporate donors. If they're not turning around and saying to Joe Manchin, the same thing, "We can get you that, too!" 

That's a great guh-- that's a great point. I mean that's the Joe Manchin Human Shield Theory, that Joe Manchin is basically the... a willing human shield of 5, 10, 15 Democratic senators who actually support what Joe Manchin is doing, but are happy to have him take the heat for that, happy to have him be their blast shield, so they can pretend that they are for a thing that they're not actually for, and Joe Manchin takes all the heat. I think there may be some legitimacy to that theory as well. 

Because, here's the thing: you haven't really heard that many senators really speak out publicly at all in explicit terms about Manchin's behavior. Now some of that's, like, Senate tradition and "Everyone's, my good friend here and like my, my, my colleague there." 

But I also think if you're legitimately for the things that need to be done and the filibuster is blocking those things and you're in the Senate, and you're sitting there... Now, granted, I think I've narrowed down the Democratic caucus there by a significant amount, cuz I, I don't think a lot of politicians, frankly, if I'm going to be cynical, are really first and foremost there to do things. I think they're there because they enjoy the spotlight. I think they're there because it's a high profile job, high status job. But if you're one of those senators, who actually is there to actually do something, and Joe Manchin is essentially singularly, or almost singularly, stopping that from happening, you've got to be, like, incredibly frustrated. Like, you've got to be really frustrated.

And the fact that there hasn't been a lot of outspoken pressure from his own colleagues, it does give me pause and make me wonder, like, how many of those folks are just sorta,  "Actually, I don't really mind what Joe Manchin is doing. Like I don't really mind it." Yeah. 

EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:59:46] The thing that grosses me out most about this, and I know this is a really galaxy brain cynical take, is that Democrats are really happy to fundraise off of issues like gun control or police brutality, and hit at the emotional, just, core of those issues with the professional managerial class, or whatever the case may be, the upper middle class to middle-class donor base that they're targeting, and yet not change the necessary rules to get anything done in that area.

And so I think the tough vote point that Sam brings up is really key as well, but also because not acting on non budgetary issues for them that are emotional points for Democratic voters, there's not really any consequences to it because they're financially incentivized every time to just keep fundraising. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:00:37] We've just heard clips today, starting with The Bradcast laying out the fact that West Virginia and Arizona polling is against Manchin and Sinema's obstruction. Start Making Sense looked at Sinema's record on filibuster reform and immigration. The Majority Report spoke with David Sirota about the conflict averse democratic party in general. The Takeaway looked at the historical view of how big things get done. Start Making Sense dove into Joe Manchin's psyche a bit and called for marches in the streets to stop the filibuster. Deconstructed analyzed the leaked audio of Manchin speaking with donors about strategies to use dark money to undercut the perfectly legitimate arguments being made by progressives. And it was at this point in the show that you would have heard the song Abolish the Filibuster by Jonathan Mann. Have you heard of the guy who writes a song every day? He's in the Guinness record book for doing it. Anyway, that's him and he's still at it. So check them out at jonathanmann.net or on YouTube -- you can make that your March song when we have to take to the streets. And then finally, Thom Hartmann put the filibuster in the context of forming a multi-racial democracy. 

At least that's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Start Making Sense expanding on Kyrsten Sinema's history a bit, and The Majority Report explored the "Manchin as a sacrificial shield for other conservative Democrats" hypothesis. For non-members those bonus clips are linked in the show notes and are part of the transcript for today's episode, so you can still get them if you want to make the effort, but to hear that and all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly into your podcast feed, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or request a financial hardship membership because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions asked. 

And now, I have our last special lesson for you.

Curation Lesson #4

Today is lesson four of four about content curation if you missed the first three, they're at the end of recent episodes, you can probably find them -maybe we'll make them accessible somewhere. All this started because a caller called in and suggested that what we do here at the show isn't all that valuable. He gets value out of it, he listens to the show and uses it as research for some of his own work, but didn't think that it was very valuable and that people shouldn't donate to the show or anything like that, at least not very much, and he was explaining why he doesn't donate. So I thought, maybe I should look into exactly how valuable content curation is and explain it to people, so that's where we are. 

Up to this point I've been doing discussing what exactly curation is. I've been explaining the value of it, especially when compared to the dismal alternatives, such as algorithmic curation as opposed to human curation, but I haven't explained what the actual skills involved are. So that's what I'm going to do today, but to avoid this being the most uncomfortable of these curation segments due to me having to talk about my own particular set of skills, I'm going to flip the framing a little bit and discuss what you should look out for in any curator you may consider following, as well as some of the skills that you will need if you wanted to do some content curation yourself. 

So the first step is to appreciate that there is a difference between a professional curator and someone on social media who posts interesting stuff. A person could do both, but doing one doesn't make you the other. So one writer explains it this way. "Curation today is much like photography. Years ago, if you wanted a quality photo, you hired a photographer. They had the equipment and the expertise to make photos that were just not possible with the cameras available to the average consumer 20 or 30 years ago. Much like curation, the shift to digital technology changed the photography game. Today, cameras and camera phones can take pictures of incredible quality. In some cases, rivaling what a professional photographer might be able to produce. Does that mean that there's no need for a professional photographer or curator? Absolutely not. Their expertise and training has value, especially in specific high-value situations." 

So to wrap up our lessons on curation, here are the skills you should be looking for in a curator or trying to obtain yourself if you want to try your own hand at it. We'll start easy with traditional literacy - reading writing, speaking, listening. That was actually on the list I found. You can understand my nervousness about being heard as a bit of a braggart. 

Next up, no, it's not about your fine motor skills, although that is important too, number two is about information literacy. Pretty straightforward. You have to be able to identify important information and know where to find - fair enough. 

Next up is critical literacy. A little bit more nuanced. Now you have to be able to question and challenge the information that you're evaluating. We're not done yet, we've got a ways to go. All of this is relatively simple. I feel like people listening at this point are starting to wonder if they're already qualified for a new job, but maybe not, we have more to go. 

Next is media literacy. This is taking that critical thinking to the next level, as you have to add a deep knowledge of the media landscape and not just for thoughtful consumption, but also for your own ability to create media messages that get put out there as your curation content.

And then last up is what you need to be able to manage all of that information and turn it into something useful, and that is tool literacy. No, not an encyclopedic knowledge of the American rock band, these are the tools you need to know how to use to actually do the work. For instance, I just counted them up for maybe the first time ever and found it that I use eight different apps and one online service just for my curation tasks alone. Then there are a total of eight publishing and financial services that I deal with to publish and monetize all of the content. And none of that is counting simple stuff like email and social media type apps to artificially inflate the numbers. 

So for a quick concrete example of tool literacy that brings all this together. For instance, it's not a straightforward process to search for information on a political topic and just get right information about what progressives are saying on the subject. Think about how you might do that. Does Google do that? No. Does searching a podcast directory do that? Obviously not. But since that's exactly what I need and that is exactly the sort of thing any content curator will need to do, in my case, I had to invent, on my own, a sort of Rube Goldberg machine of tools to make that process work for my specific purposes. Of all the things we content curators do, I think that is probably the least understood, most well hidden aspect of what we do, but if you want to understand how it all works, it's absolutely critical.

And that concludes our series on the humble content curator, the unsung hero of the internet age.

Final comments on Bo Burnham's "Inside"

Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as a VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 202 999 3991, or write me a message, to [email protected]

We will be getting back to messages next week.

And the last thing I'll say, is that, we here at the show all watched the Bo Burnham comedy special on Netflix. It came to my attention initially as something that, uh, seemingly literally everyone was discussing, uh, because first Erin, and then completely separately and without coordination, Dion both recommended it to me, which has never happened before.

And then Amanda and I watched it. And, what I will say, in the wake of that is that, if you need a place to process your feelings, you can check out our member's episode from this week, because we talked about it, you know, a little bit, or just send us a message, or leave us a voicemail; we are a welcoming and safe place for that kind of discussion, as it seems like everyone who watches it needs to have an outlet to discuss it. 

So, um, we're happy to facilitate that conversation if anyone needs, as we're all still dealing with the emotional aftermath of first having watched it, then listening to all the music on a loop and then watching it again. At least that's my situation.

So again, keep the comments coming in on any topic you like at 202 999 3991. Or by emailing me to [email protected]

That's going to be for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes.

Thanks to the monosyllabic transcriptionist trio, Ben, Dan and Scott for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. 

And of course, thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, or from right inside the apple podcast app, if that's your style. That's how you can get instant access to our impressively good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all regular episodes 

For details on the show itself, including links to all of the sources and music used in this and every episode, all   information can always be found right in the show notes on our website and likely right on the device you're using to listen.  

So coming to you from far outside, the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly. Thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.


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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2021-06-19 11:04:23 -0400
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